KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to set up a 50-megawatt power plant at Nooriabad which will be the first-ever power project to be executed by a province under public-private partnership, it emerged on Sunday.

Adviser to the Sindh chief minister on finance and energy Syed Murad Ali Shah told a recently held meeting of the Sindh cabinet at Chief Minister House that the project was conceived in 2012 but could not be materialised at that time due to ‘red-tapism and delays in regulatory approvals’, according to the minutes of the meeting reviewed by Dawn.

The adviser said that despite ‘financial constraints,’ the provincial government was committed to the launch of the project as it had already sought for it required undertakings from the National Bank of Pakistan and the Sindh Bank.

He lauded the professional contribution of the public-private partnership unit of the finance and energy departments that expedited the process and developed financial structure for the energy project.

In order to expedite work on the Nooriabad power project, the cabinet decided that the government would provide up to Rs6 billion guarantees and cash margin of Rs600m to the NBP for opening of ‘letters of credit’ for the procurement of machinery and equipment for the power project.

The meeting was informed that the Sindh Bank would undertake the repayment of debt of Rs2.805 billion in case of default of the project operators and the financial support provided by the government would cease when the power project achieved financial close.

The cabinet members underlined the importance of the energy sector and suggested that the Sindh government commit maximum resources for the development of this sector.

They also proposed that alternative energy resources should be used. The cabinet also deliberated on the menace of illegal water hydrants and consequent water shortage in the metropolis.

Sindh Minister for Information and Local Government Sharjeel Inam Memon told the participants of the meeting that illegal hydrants were being operated in different areas of the city resulting in water theft and water shortage.

The cabinet decided that FIRs should be lodged against owners of illegal hydrants and officials and officers of KWSB who were allegedly involved in setting up illegal hydrants.

Since the cabinet’s deliberations were mostly dominated by the current political situation arising out of protests and sit-ins by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the minister for parliamentary affairs and environment, Dr Sikander Mandhro, contended that “certain forces wanted instability in the country and emphasised the need to remain vigilant as other disgruntled elements in Karachi may also try to take political mileage out of the current situation”.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah who chaired the cabinet meeting expressed dismay over the administrative departments’ failure to send summaries to the cabinet for discussion.

“As a result, critical decisions which are to be decided by the cabinet are being decided by the administrative departments themselves,” observed the chief minister and directed the practice must be shunned.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2014

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